A team from East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) has been selected by the Health Foundation, an independent health care charity, to be part of its £1.5 million innovation programme, Innovating for Improvement.

The third round of the Innovating for Improvement programme is supporting twenty health care projects in the UK with the aim of improving health care delivery and/or the way people manage their own health care by testing and developing innovative ideas and approaches and putting them into practice. 

The initiative from ELFT, The REFRAME project, aims to test the use of mobile technology health solutions for patients with severe mental illness to see if an interactive text messaging intervention can improve their care and self-management. The team will be led by Professor Frank Röhricht.

This Telehealth approach is already used in Newham in supporting people with chronic physical illness to improve treatment adherence, patient engagement and self-management but this will be the first time it has been tested in a controlled trial for people with a severe mental health condition.

 Professor Frank Röhricht, Consultant Psychiatrist said, “The project will test the feasibility and evaluate the effectiveness (six months after baseline) of a mobile technology intervention in comparison with routine care for patients with severe mental illness, aiming to foster self-management and timely communication between patients and clinicians, hereby impacting upon treatment adherence and relapse rates.” 

The ‘Florence’ Telehealth system sends patients four SMS text messages daily: two reminders for medication adherence or appointments and two asking patients to send their wellbeing scores and relapse indicators. These indicators will be personal to the patient and reflect aspects of their wellbeing that are specific to their illness such as sleep, mood, voice-hearing sensations, etc. The messages will also prompt patients to contact their care co-ordinator to discuss problems arising and allow service users sending information about areas of unmet need. It enables the care-coordinator to have daily information about how the person is feeling.

Sarah Henderson, Associate Director from the Health Foundation said, “We are very excited to be working with such a high-calibre of teams, who all have great innovative ideas. As an organisation we are keen to support innovation at the frontline across all sectors of health and care services, and I am pleased that we will be able to support these ambitious teams to develop and test their ideas over the next year. Our aim is to promote the effectiveness and impact of the teams’ innovations and show how they have succeeded in improving the quality of healthcare, with the intention of these being widely adopted across the UK.” 

The programme will run for fifteen months and each project will receive up to £75,000 of funding to support the implementation and evaluation of the project.